Offensive trademark

An offensive trademark name??

Are you familiar with the First amendment? Do you know what it says?

Here is a refresher:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

With respect to the trademark case- Matal vs. Tam – it is important to know that you’re right to say whatever comes to mind is a freedom protected by the first amendment. This was contradicting the Lanham Act of 1946 which prohibited anyone from registering a trademark that “may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

In other words the Lanham act was contradicting the first amendment and the Supreme Court needed to rule on this issue for clarity. The Supreme Court ruled that the Lanham Act could NOT prohibit applicants from registering offensive marks because the first amendment protects the expression of thoughts even though they can be hateful.

Will clients be in a hurry to submit a trademark application for a disparaging or offensive mark? Time will tell. If you are interested in the details of the case visit this link which is the Supreme Court’s opinion: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-1293_1o13.pdf